Physical Therapy - Is it real?

Dr Winston O'Boogie Senior Member
3,345 posts 27 reps Joined Oct 2010
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 2:15 PM

My wife and I both just finished regiments with physical therapists - her for a sciatica and me for osteoarthritis of the knees.  In neither case did we desire to to PT, but both doctors insisted we do it before moving onto next steps ("We require everyone go to PT for this prior to considering our next move.")  After paying bunch of out-of-pocket money to learn a bunch of stretches, bungee cord pulls, very light weight muscle isolation machines and rolling around over two taped together tennis balls (i.e. a "peanut"), neither of us has any improvement.  We never expected any.


This is probably my third time going to PT and I've found to be a complete waste of time and money.  It seems like an insurance billing / personal billing vehicle with a one-size-fits-all approach.  I know there are specific injuries and surgeries people have that utilize PT for  recovery of use.  But those seem few and far between.  Instead I see "sports medicine" clinics opening on every corner, half my friends kids seem to be studying PT or sports medicine in college, etc.  I'm kind of wondering if worthless higher education has taught its model to the "rehab" industry.  


Maybe I'm bitter about my personal experience, but I grade PT a large pile of stinking horse dung.  Opinions?


brutus161 The Navy Guy
1,688 posts 17 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 2:18 PM

Physical therapy to recover after a surgery = very much real

Physical therapy to before actual treatment = stupid bullshit stall tactics

Automatik Senior Member
15,737 posts 95 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 2:52 PM

100% real, but I agree over prescribed. 

You just have to realize when you're getting taken or not. Once you feel you're doing the same shit over and over, it's time to bounce and handle it at home.

I've PT'd away issues from a SLAP labrum tear in my shoulder and knee pain/stiffness.

rip34 Member
76 posts 6 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 3:01 PM

As a PT I'd say can we help everyone, nope.  Are we able to help most in one way another, I'd like to think so.  Rolling around on a "peanut" is a waste of your therapy visit time since you can do it at home.  I'd look into another clinic if that's the therapy you are getting.

Many insurance companies require conservative care before more expensive things( surgery, injections) will be authorized. Truth is they can send you to therapy for a month for a lot less than the cost of an MRI. Since 80% of low back pain gets better on its own it is cheaper to try PT and wait it out versus paying $6-7k for a picture.

Problem is the degree is now 7 years.  You can't ask someone to go to school for 7 years then pay them little, hence the high cost for our services.

I'd say since mentally you already think it's a sham I wouldn't bother attending in future unless your post op where you need someone to mobilize your joint.  The mind has a tremendous influence on outcomes and if you already believe it won't work for you, it likely won't. 

I've been a PT for 20 years now and treated thousands.  Had some good successes and had people I knew would not get better when I assessed them. Is it a cure all, nope but we do help people unfortunately in your case it hasn't helped.

Dr Winston O'Boogie Senior Member
3,345 posts 27 reps Joined Oct 2010
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 3:52 PM

Good posts.  I figured I was jaded from my own personal experience - shouldn't paint with a broad brush.  I'm sure PT has it's place and that there are good and bad practitioners as in every other field.  Go PT!

BRF Senior Member
11,621 posts 91 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 4:51 PM
posted by brutus161

Physical therapy to recover after a surgery = very much real

Physical therapy to before actual treatment = stupid bullshit stall tactics

I agree with this.  When I had my knee replaced, PT was very important.

However, before my surgery, my insurance said they were not going to pay unless I first went through PT.  My doctor said that that’s ridiculous because no amount of PT is going to give me back the cartilage I no longer had (osteoarthritis, also). He called them up and gave them the business and my surgery went on as scheduled.


gerb131 Senior Member
9,982 posts 25 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 5:16 PM

I have awful costochrondritis and have been mulling over chiropractor or pt I’m desp

superman Senior Member
4,377 posts 70 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 11:12 PM

I had PT after my leg amputation. It helped tremendously because the taught me the exercises and I did them at home. I also benefited from having a clinical director that made it her mission to find something I couldn't conquer immediately. 

Ironman92 Administrator
56,729 posts 146 reps Joined Nov 2009
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 11:24 PM

I had an issue with my upper arm fir weeks after an alumni basketball tournament and PT did the trick and they were great…..15 years later and same faculty though with my neck issues (turned out to be cervical dystonia) and it was horse shit what they put me through. The stretches were excruciating and I was doing them religiously and all throughout the day and not a scratch of improvement. I was so beat down and PT was awful.


Thank God for Dr Clairmonte at OSU who works his magic with Botox and my life is basically back to what it always was….he told me not to do PT or anything like that with what I have because they don’t know what they are doing with this.


But my memories of those stretches and what they had me do….nightmarish 

geeblock Member
1,123 posts 0 reps Joined May 2018
Fri, Sep 3, 2021 8:53 AM

my brother had both hips replaced and the pt was critical

like_that 1st Team All-PWN
29,228 posts 314 reps Joined Apr 2010
Sun, Sep 5, 2021 9:59 AM

PT is 100% real. I would always go the conservative route, before even contemplating other routes (invasive procedures).

like_that 1st Team All-PWN
29,228 posts 314 reps Joined Apr 2010
Sun, Sep 5, 2021 10:02 AM
posted by gerb131

I have awful costochrondritis and have been mulling over chiropractor or pt I’m desp

My chiro has helped with my costochondritis. I hardly have any flare ups anymore.  Also recommend this https://www.amazon.com/Backpod-Treatment-Smartphones-Computers-Costochondritis/dp/B01LYNZBV3


gerb131 Senior Member
9,982 posts 25 reps Joined Nov 2009
Sun, Sep 5, 2021 10:46 AM
posted by like_that

My chiro has helped with my costochondritis. I hardly have any flare ups anymore.  Also recommend this https://www.amazon.com/Backpod-Treatment-Smartphones-Computers-Costochondritis/dp/B01LYNZBV3


I do have the back pod only a week so far but using it daily. I think I’ll look into the chiropractor seriously this coming week  thanks 


Zunardo Senior Member
815 posts 14 reps Joined Nov 2010
Sun, Sep 5, 2021 6:48 PM
posted by Dr Winston O'Boogie

My wife and I both just finished regiments with physical therapists - her for a sciatica and me for osteoarthritis of the knees.  

Dr., did the doc say you're candidate for knee replacement yet?  I read BRF's post about his doctor overriding the insurance company, which made sense.  I thought you might say your insurance recommended a cortisone shot before attempting surgery.  And since sciatica is more of a soft-tissue condition, I can see them wanted to go the conservative route first with your wife.

My ortho doc told me at my first appointment my hip wouldn't get any better until he replaced it.  When I was ready, his company submitted for insurance, and they approved it right away.

My wife went to the same ortho doc for her knee, he took one look at her and her x-ray and said, "Surgery.  You tell me when you're ready".  In this case, my wife was the one who wanted more conservative treatment, so she went thru the "pain-relieving gel injection" (no difference), and deep nerve ablation (no difference).  Fortunately her insurance paid completely for the new knee with no hold-up. 

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